If you want to catch the biggest bass of your life, now is the time to go hunting for it. Full of eggs and feeding heavily, the heaviest bass in our lakes are usually caught right after the ice comes off.
On Saturday, Dylan Skaggs and I launched on a small public lake in southeast Ohio in search of big bass. Skaggs was rewarded with this pair of pre-spawn giants, which weighed 7 pounds 3 ounces and 6 pounds 2 ounces, respectively.
When we launched in the morning, the water was in the 45-47 degree range. We concentrated on the deeper areas of the lake, working jigs, jerkbaits and crankbaits along laydowns and rocks. As the sun reached its high point, we moved to a flat on the northeast side of the lake, where the sunlight was quickly heating the shallows. The water in this area was 51 degrees, and a number of big fish had moved up to sun themselves on the ends of shoreline laydowns and next to shallow stumps. That slight temperature uptick made all the difference.
We flipped soft plastics along the cover, a good bait selection for lethargic bass due to the slow rate of fall. The key was to work the bait deliberately, allowing it to soak before putting action into it. As the sun continued to warm the lake, we were also able to trigger a couple of bites burning traps along the flats.
The lesson here is that it’s critical to pay attention to your surroundings this time of year. Picking up on minor details, like a 4 degree temperature change, can turn your day into a success.